“Just a summer job,” but a dream job for me as a key program staff person serving as Camp Chaplain, Senior Patrol Leader Trainer, and Chief Spirit Officer in charge of morning colors, 3 nights of Campfires plus a Talent Show Night, four of the five nights of programs for the total camp. It was a BIG job . . .
. . . hard work day and night, Sunday to Friday, with Saturday off, though nowhere to go but Benton which I did every Saturday for a laundromat and maybe shopping. This was before Dad had a store there and after Gene had left, so I knew no one in Benton.
I was relieved to spend the summer in a forest after my last year of college and last month as part-time pastor of Chidester Baptist Church, where I decided that God had not called me to pastor, making camp like a vacation to me! I was my true self that summer! 🙂
A look at each category of my work for the summer . . .
Not many scout-age boys were rushing for counsel with the Camp Chaplain or to talk about spiritual things or the Bible, but I was ready for a few that did. Then the most noticeable thing I did was to conduct a Sunday morning worship service in the beautiful outdoor chapel in the camp for those who arrived early for camp registration on Sunday and the large staff living at the camp. Participation and attendance varied from week to week, but it was an enjoyable experience of creativity for me and interesting relationships for the few that made this a priority in their lives. And of course, any other time during the camp week prayer was needed or called for, they asked the chaplain to lead in prayer. 🙂
Senior Patrol Leader Trainer
Wow! This was the biggest job! Took the most time! And was the most work!
BUT . . . It was also what I enjoyed the most and where I felt like I was accomplishing the most in training these young leaders who would be leading their own troops through the camp program the following week. It was an ingenious idea by whoever planned it. I also bonded with some of these young lives and received letters later and even a “thank you” gift from one boy the following Christmas, an oil painting he made of our experience at Shiloh. It was similar to being a youth minister later, just in a different realm.
Most mornings were outdoor classes in both leadership skills and campcraft skills with afternoons spent on assigned work projects like building the totem pole in one of the photos which took at least 3 of the classes to complete. Plus we had an overnight hike, camping out in the forest and other projects I don’t recall right now. Then the following week I occasionally saw some of “my” young leaders at work with their troops. Rewarding!
This photo looks like all staff, but we raised the flag every morning before breakfast with all the scouts in camp too! Ceremonial things like this with the American flag or the Boy Scout Pledge or Law were a part of the spirit of scouting and security in the lives of the boys.
At first this was a mixture of fun and insecurity for me, leading more than a hundred boys (don’t remember for sure how many) in a campfire 3 nights a week, knowing that it was a huge part of the camp experience for these younger boys AND it was my job to lead them in singing camp songs and quite frankly, I think I have a terrible singing voice. But you know what? A much of silly little boys didn’t care and even though I was very self-conscious about singing in front of people, no one ever said anything negative about it. Plus the songs that scouts sing, they all know and sing and once I start them, they take over; Like “Happy Wanderer.” the Canoe Song (dip, dip, dip & swing), and many others I forget now, so it worked out. I also used some of the high school staffers to help with skits, lighting the campfire, and some activities that they suggested, so that it all came together to be a fun evening experience every night! And it was interesting to see how the professional scouters used one person in several jobs like this to help pull a camp together for complete experience.
Of course other staffers were responsible for the other daytime activities like swimming, canoeing, campcraft skills, and several others I don’t remember with crews consisting of a college student leader with high school helpers. Everyone had a job and when everyone did their job, the camp came together! Another good life lesson! 🙂
If you are not of my generation I must explain that this was a funny take off of a then popular TV Show call “Ted Mac’s Amateur Hour” with me switching some letters to make it “Mad Tac’s Amateur Hour! 🙂 This was a substitute for a campfire one night with every troop present required to have one or more person to participate with music, skit (boys loved to do skits). or other entertaining activity from juggling to joke-telling. I screened them ahead but usually used all entries and we usually had plenty for a good show.
Also, if not of my generation you may not know that in 1962 Summer camps like this one that were open to all (some weren’t) had separate weeks for black and white kids. The photo above was made at my talent show for the black week which was probably then called either Negro Week or Colored Week as the use of the word “black” was not common at that time. It is shocking today, but was not then because “that was how it had always been” and remember, then the schools and churches were still segregated as were some restaurants and other businesses and places they were open to both, like my Dad’s Department Store, had separate water fountains and restrooms for “White” and “Colored.” Its just how life was then and some of us did not like it, but we had no control over it.
Order of the Arrow Ceremony
You have to be active in Boy Scouts to understand the mystique and ceremony of the “secret” Order of the Arrow group of “chosen” exemplary Boy Scouts with its secret initiation and indian-themed campouts and activities. I think every boy scout council had an Order of the Arrow Lodge and at their summer camps or sometimes at camporees would “call out” new candidates who were tapped on the shoulder by an Indian whom you followed to a meeting place for information on your initiation and induction into the order. With this you get a lodge patch (above) and white sash with red arrow to wear over your scout uniform on some occasions (see me as an Explorer Scout) plus a little red/white ribbon with silver arrow hanging under it for your shirt pocket. It is an exotic Indian experience that many Boys Scouts look forward to. I was first initiated while in El Dorado at Camp Logoly. And there is a higher level of the OA called OA Brotherhood for those that stay with it and lead in such ceremonies as the above “calling out.”
On My “Day Off” Saturdays
My main activity for my day off each Saturday was to go to the nearest town, Benton, AR, a medium-sized town known mainly then for it’s bauxite mining from which aluminum is made. Later Dad managed the Gingles Department Store in Benton and in earlier years my Uncle Gene and family lived there like one year while he built their only motel, The Trout Motel.
But at this time I knew no one in Benton and nothing interesting for me to do, though occasionally other camp staff would ride with me since I had a car and not all of them did. So I did laundry at a laundromat and maybe went shopping and then eat one meal out somewhere in town before going back to camp to read or make plans for my move to the Seminary in Fort Worth in September. A change of pace and scenery anyway! 🙂
I was going to show the camp on a map, but it was sold to the state to build a lake. Oh well, it was close to Benton! 🙂 The Green Star:
Post-Camp Hikes with Interested SPL’s
Then and now I can never have too many hikes and was always looking for a new one to go on and it seemed then to be better with other people. So early in the summer I planned two hikes after camp was over but during that week or two before school started. Thus the first week after camp was concluded I led some of my SPLs on the historic Desoto Trail hike between Benton and Little Rock with only one night camping along the way. That link is to my page here on the hike. Then within a day or two I led another group (a few boys on both) on the Shiloh Military Park Trail with historical information quizzes to take and then receive a medal and a patch. This link is to my page on our hike.
Pre & Post-Camp Training Events for Me
Because they were hoping I would choose Scouting as a career, they sent me to National Camping School in Camp Yocona, Mississippi before camp started and to Woodbadge Training after camp was over (and after the two hikes above). I loved both events but decided Scouting would involve too much fund-raising and that I could help more people through the church, thus went on to the seminary in Fort Worth.
A Great Summer!